The NHL series is really important for me, so this morning’s reveal for NHL 21 is something that has been on my mind all day. For what was revealed, I have a lot of thoughts and I wanted to put them on paper.
The Bad: The Info Dump
I didn’t want to start off on a sour note but I just had to. The way information has been trickled out today is frustrating. The official site has almost no information. Their news page for NHL 21 is bare. Outside of the three selling points, everything I have learned is through Tweets, Content on YouTube, and mainstream media.
As someone who works in Web Content, this isn’t smart. Even with the most basic web traffic data, this is not how you get your message out there. Your site should be the hub of data while the other streams serve as supplemental info. The fact that even the official EA SPORTS NHL Twitter account lacks information and pushes people to pre-order, is a bad marketing move. Did you know the Beta is this week? Unless you follow the game’s community manager, you probably didn’t because the info isn’t shared on the official, verified account.
The Good: Be A Pro sounds promising
When I was younger, career modes were my go-to spot for games. I loved creating myself and making it big. Sports games have gone away from giving you a proper career mode outside of the narrative storyline which only serves as a tutorial before getting you to jump into Franchise mode. I play through NBA 2K’s version of this and FIFA’s The Journey was promising until they gave up on it. As for NHL, Career mode is easily forgotten about but Be A Pro for NHL 21 sounds good…on paper.
I like the narrative options but the last time they did something like this was NHL 14 and the choices were on-screen prompts and felt poorly developed. If there is a difference between starting in the CHL and Europe, I will definitely jump in as a promising European player and see if they do something interesting with how my character moves to America. This definitely needs further fleshing out, so hopefully, they have a nice deep-dive coming soon.
The Unknown: Where’s the Gameplay?
Fine, NHL 21 comes out in two months (Oct 16) but the trailer relies heavily on real-world imagery and very little in-game. I don’t necessarily need five-on-five footage but when your three selling points are Gameplay, Be A Pro, and World of Chel there wasn’t much of any of that shown. This is part of why I’m not happy with how the info was shared. You really need to dig around to find out more and the lack of visual confirmation on things leaves a lot of questions and uncertainties.
At this early stage, the official account needs to get out there and give a breakdown on when fans can learn more – a good, old Content Calendar. Hype up that this week is Beta, next week we’ll learn more about World of Chel, the following week about Be A Pro, then follow that up with information on HUT. The fact that I know nothing doesn’t hype me as much as I want/need.
The Potential: Tons of Potential
I will admit, the trailer has me wanting to get back into NHL 20 even for a few games. I’m looking forward to getting access to the NHL 21 Beta (if I get access, that is). On paper, I like what I’ve read but I need to be cautiously optimistic in case I get burned. Considering how disappointing EA SPORTS games have been this year (I am not enjoying the glitches in Madden NFL 21 and UFC 4 hasn’t done enough to keep me interested), I really hope NHL 21 doesn’t suffer the same fate.